FAQs - U.S. Securities Option Expiration

Overview: 

The following page has been created in attempt to assist traders by providing answers to frequently asked questions related to US security option expiration, exercise, and assignment.  Please feel free to contact us if your question is not addressed on this page or to request the addition of a question and answer. 

Click on a question in the table of contents to jump to the question in this document.

Table Of Contents:

How do I provide exercise instructions?

Do I have to notify IB if I want my long option exercised?

What if I have a long option which I do not want exercised?

What can I do to prevent the assignment of a short option?

Is it possible for a short option which is in-the-money not to be assigned?

What happens if I have a spread position with an in-the-money option and an out-of-the-money option?

Can IB exercise the out-of-the-money long leg of my spread position only if my in-the-money short leg is assigned?

What happens to my long stock position if a short option which is part of a covered write is assigned?

Am I charged a commission for exercise or assignments?

What happens if I am unable to meet the margin requirement on a stock delivery resulting from an option exercise or assignment?

 

Q&A:

How do I provide exercise instructions?
Instructions are to be entered through the TWS Option Exercise window. Procedures for exercising an option using the IB Trader Workstation can be found in the TWS User's Guide.

Important Note: In the event that an option exercise cannot be submitted via the TWS, an option exercise request with all pertinent details (including option symbol, account number and exact quantity), should be created in a ticket via the Account Management window. In the Account Management Message Center click on "Compose" followed by "New Ticket". The ticket should include the words "Option Exercise Request" in the subject line. Please provide a contact number and clearly state in your ticket why the TWS Option Exercise window was not available for use.

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Do I have to notify IB if I want my long option exercised?

In the case of exchange listed U.S. securities options, the clearinghouse (OCC) will automatically exercise all cash and physically settled options which are in-the-money by at least $0.01 at expiration (e.g., a call option having a strike price of $25.00 will be automatically exercised if the stock price is $25.01 or more and a put option having a strike price of $25.00 will be automatically exercised if the stock price is $24.99 or less). In accordance with this process, referred to as exercise by exception, account holders are not required to provide IB with instructions to exercise any long options which are in-the-money by at least $0.01 at expiration. 

Important Note: in certain situations (e.g., underlying stock halt, corporate action), OCC may elect to remove a particular class of options from the exercise by exception process, thereby requiring the account holder to provide positive notice of their intent to exercise their long option contracts regardless of the extent they may be in-the-money. In these situations, IB will make every effort to provide advance notice to the account holder of their obligation to respond, however, account holders purchasing such options on the last day of trading are not likely to be afforded any notice.

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What if I have a long option which I do not want exercised?
If a long option is not in-the-money by at least $0.01 at expiration it will not be automatically exercised by OCC. If it is in-the-money by at least that amount and you do not wish to have it exercised, you would need to provide IB with contrary instructions to let the option lapse. These instructions would need to be entered through the TWS Option Exercise window prior to the deadline as stated on the IB website.

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What can I do to prevent the assignment of a short option?
The only action one can take to prevent being assigned on a short option position is to buy back in the option prior to the close of trade on its last trading day (for equity options this is usually the Friday preceding the expiration date although there may also be weekly expiring options for certain classes). When you sell an option, you provided the purchaser with the right to exercise which they generally will do if the option is in-the-money at expiration.

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Is it possible for a short option which is in-the-money not to be assigned?
While is unlikely that holders of in-the-money long options will elect to let the option lapse without exercising them, certain holders may do so due to transaction costs or risk considerations. In conjunction with its expiration processing, OCC will assign option exercises to short position holders via a random lottery process which, in turn, is applied by brokers to their customer accounts. It is possible through these random processes that short positions in your account be part of those which were not assigned.

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What happens if I have a spread position with an in-the-money option and an out-of-the-money option?
Spread positions can have unique expiration risks associated with them. For example, an expiring spread where the long option is in-the-money by less than $0.01 and the short leg is in-the-money more than $0.01 may expire unhedged. Account holders are ultimately responsible for taking action on such positions and responsible for the risks associated with any unhedged spread leg expiring in-the-money.

 

Can IB exercise the out-of-the-money long leg of my spread position only if my in-the-money short leg is assigned?
No. There is no provision for issuing conditional exercise instructions to OCC. OCC determines the assignment of options based upon a random process which is initiated only after the deadline for submitting all exercise instructions has ended. In order to avoid the delivery of a long or short underlying stock position when only the short leg of an option spread is in-the-money at expiration, the account holder would need to either close out that short position or consider exercising an at-the-money long option.

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What happens to my long stock position if a short option which is part of a covered write is assigned?
If the short call leg of a covered write position is assigned, the long stock position will be applied to satisfy the stock delivery obligation on the short call. The price at which that long stock position will be closed out is equal to the short call option strike price.

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Am I charged a commission for exercise or assignments?
There is no commissions charged as the result of the delivery of a long or short position resulting from option exercise or assignment of a U.S. security option (note that this is not always the case for non-U.S. options).

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What happens if I am unable to meet the margin requirement on a stock delivery resulting from an option exercise or assignment?
You should review your positions prior to expiration to determine whether you have adequate equity in your account to exercise your options. You should also determine whether you have adequate equity in the account if an in-the-money short option position is assigned to your account. You should also be aware that short options positions may be exercised against you by the long holder even if the option is out-of-the-money.

If you anticipate that you will be unable to meet the margin requirement on a stock delivery resulting from an option exercise or assignment, you should either close positions or deposit additional funds to your account to meet the anticipated post-delivery margin requirement.

If an option exercise or assignment results in the delivery of a long or short stock position and the account holder does not maintain sufficient equity to meet the ensuing margin requirement, IB may liquidate positions to restore margin compliance. While IB retains the right to liquidate at any time in such situations, liquidations involving U.S. security positions will typically begin at approximately 9:40 AM ET as of the business day following expiration.

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SPX Weekly Settlement Changes (SPXW)

Overview: 
 
In the first week of December 2010, CBOE will transition from the current AM-settled SPX Weeklys product to a PM-settled SPX Week-End product. The last AM-settled Weeklys will expire on Friday, December 3, 2010. The first PM-settled SPX Week-End options will begin on Thursday, December 2, 2010 and expire on Friday, December 10, 2010, thus allowing overlap of one trading day between the two. Following this transition, no further AM-settled SPX Weeklys will be listed. The trading symbol for the new PM-settled SPX Week-End product will be SPXW which will be tied to the SPX index underlying.

Launch of P.M.-Settled End of Week (i.e. Week-End) SPX Options on Thursday, December 2, 2010

  • Regulatory Circular RG10-112
  • TO: Trading Permit Holders
  • FROM: CBOE Research and Product Development
  • DATE: October 28, 2010
  • SUBJECT: Launch of P.M.-Settled End of Week (i.e. ?Week-End?) SPX Options on Thursday, December 2, 2010

OVERVIEW

  • On Thursday, December 2, 2010, CBOE will commence trading of PM-settled End of Week (?Week-Ends?) SPX Options for expiration on Friday, December 10, 2010.
  • With the commencement of trading in Week-End SPX Options, CBOE will discontinue the listing of AM-settled SPX Weeklys options, although they will be available during the month of November (expiring November 5, November 12 and November 26), with the last expiring on Friday, December 3.

The listing of the initial Week-End SPX options on Thursday, December 2 will allow for a one-day roll period between the SPX Weeklys options that expire on December 3 and the initial Week-End SPX options that expire on Friday, December 10. Initially, Week-End SPX Options will be listed on Thursdays of the week prior to their expiration.

 

END OF WEEK (i.e. WEEK-END) S&P 500 INDEX OPTIONS PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

  • Symbol: SPXW
  • Description:
    • Week-End SPX options are PM-settled, European-style exercise options that may be listed for trading to expire on any Friday of the month, other than the third Friday of the month.
    • The Standard & Poor's 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks from a broad range of industries. The component stocks are weighted according to the total market value of their outstanding shares. The impact of a component's price change is proportional to the issue's total market value, which is the share price times the number of shares outstanding. These are summed for all 500 stocks and divided by a predetermined base value. The base value for the
    • S&P 500 Index is adjusted to reflect changes in capitalization resulting from mergers, acquisitions, stock rights, substitutions, etc.
  • Multiplier: $100.
  • Premium Quote: Stated in decimals. One point equals $100. Minimum tick for options trading below 3.00 is 0.05 ($5.00) and for all other series, 0.10 ($10.00).
  • Strike Prices: In-,at- and out-of-the-money strike prices are initially listed. New series are generally added when the underlying trades through the highest or lowest strike price available.
  • Strike Price Intervals: Five points.
  • Expiration Dates: Any Friday of the month, other than the third Friday of the month.
  • Exercise Style: European - Week-End SPX options generally may be exercised only on the expiration date.
  • Last Trading Day: Trading in End of Week SPX options ordinarily cease trading on the business day (usually a Friday) that the options expire.
  • Settlement Value: The exercise-settlement value, SPX, is calculated using the last (closing) reported sales price in the primary market of each component stock on the last trading day. The exercise- settlement amount is equal to the difference between the exercise-settlement value, SPX, and the exercise price of the option, multiplied by $100. Exercise will result in delivery of cash on the business day following the day the exercise notice is properly submitted.
  • Position and Exercise Limits, Reporting Requirements: As part of the SPX options class, there are no position limits for End of Week SPX options.
    • Positions in Week-End SPX options shall be aggregated with positions in SPX options for the purposes of satisfying the reporting requirements under Interpretation and Policy .03 to Rule 24.4, which, among other things, requires each TPH (other than a market maker) to submit a report to the CBOE whenever they maintain an aggregated position in SPX options in excess of 100,000 contracts. The TPH must report information as to whether such position is hedged and, if so, a description of the hedge employed, e.g., stock portfolio current market value, other stock index option positions, stock index futures positions, options on stock index futures; and for customer accounts, provide the account name, account number and tax ID or social security number. Thereafter, if the position is maintained at or above the reporting threshold, asubsequent report is required on Monday following expiration and when any change to the hedge results in the position being either unhedged or only partially hedged. Reductions below these thresholds do not need to be reported.
  • Position and exercise limits are subject to change.
  • Margin: Purchases of puts or calls with 9 months or less until expiration must be paid for in full. Writers of uncovered puts or calls must deposit / maintain 100% of the option proceeds* plus 15% of the aggregate contract value (current index level x $100) minus the amount by which the option is out-of-the-money, if any, subject to a minimum for calls of option proceeds* plus 10% of the aggregate contract value and a minimum for puts of option proceeds* plus 10% of the aggregate exercise price amount. (*For calculating maintenance margin, use option current market value instead of option proceeds.) Additional margin may be required pursuant to Exchange Rule 12.10.
  • Cusip Number: TBD
  • Trading Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. Central Time (Chicago time).
  • If you have any questions about this memorandum may be directed to the Help Desk at 1- 866-728-2263.

Information regarding restrictions on Swiss Warrants

Interactive Brokers supports cash settled standard warrants listed for trading on the SWX Swiss exchange.  This includes  a number of share warrants and all index, commodity and currency warrants.

Share Warrants with physical delivery are not supported at this time.

Overview of Fees

Clients and as well as prospective clients are encouraged to review our website where fees are outlined in detail. An overview of the most common fees is provided below:

 

1. Commissions - vary by product type and listing exchange and whether you elect a bundled (all in) or unbundled plan. In the case of US stocks, for example, we charge $0.005 per share with a minimum per trade of $1.00.


2. Interest - interest is charged on margin debit balances and IB uses internationally recognized benchmarks on overnight deposits as a basis for determining interest rates. We then apply a spread around the benchmark interest rate (“BM”) in tiers, such that larger cash balances receive increasingly better rates, to determine an effective rate.  For example, in the case of USD denominated loans, the benchmark rate is the Fed Funds effective rate and a spread of 1.5% is added to the benchmark for balances up to $100,000.  In addition, individuals who short stock should be aware of special fees expressed in terms of daily interest where the stock borrowed to cover the short stock sale is considered 'hard-to-borrow'. 

 3. Exchange Fees - again vary by product type and exchange. For example, in the case of US securities options, certain exchanges charge a fee for removing liquidity (market order or marketable limit order) and provide payments for orders which add liquidity (limit order). In addition, many exchanges charge fees for orders which are canceled or modified.



4. Market Data - you are not required to subscribe to market data through IB but if you do you may incur a monthly fee which is dependent upon the vendor exchange and their subscription offering. We provide a Market Data Assistant tool which assists in selecting the appropriate market data subscription service available based upon the product you wish to trade. To access, log into Account Management click on the Support section and then the Market Data Assistant link.



5. Minimum Monthly Activity Fee - as we cater to active traders we require accounts to generate a minimum in commissions each month or be charged the difference as an activity fee. The minimum is $10 per month for accounts maintaining a balance above $2,000 and $20 per month for accounts whose equity has fallen below $2,000.



6. Miscellaneous - IB allows for one free withdrawal per month and charges a fee for each subsequent withdrawal. In addition, there are certain pass-through fees for trade bust requests, options and futures exercise & assignments and ADR custodian fees.



For additional information, we recommend visiting our website at ww.interactivebrokers.com and selecting any of the options from the Pricing menu option.

 

Equity & Index Option Position Limits

Overview: 

Equity option exchanges define position limits for designated equity options classes.  These limits define position quantity limitations in terms of the equivalent number of underlying shares (described below) which cannot be exceeded at any time on either the bullish or bearish side of the market.  Account positions in excess of defined position limits may be subject to trade restriction or liquidation at any time without prior notification.

Background: 

Position limits are defined on regulatory websites and may change periodically.  Some contracts also have near-term limit requirements (near-term position limits are applied to the side of the market for those contracts that are in the closest expiring month issued).  Traders are responsible for monitoring their positions as well as the defined limit quantities to ensure compliance.  The following information defines how position limits are calculated;

 

Option position limits are determined as follows:

  • Bullish market direction -- long call & short put positions are aggregated and quantified in terms of equivalent shares of stock.
  • Bearish market direction -- long put & short call positions are aggregated and quantified in terms of equivalent shares of stock.

The following examples, using the 25,000 option contract limit, illustrate the operation of position limits:

  • Customer A, who is long 25,000 XYZ calls, may at the same time be short 25,000 XYZ calls, since long and short positions in the same class of options (i.e., in calls only or in puts only) are on opposite sides of the market and are not aggregated
  • Customer B, who is long 25,000 XYZ calls, may at the same time be long 25,000 XYZ puts. Rule 4.11 does not require the aggregation of long call and long put (or short call and short put) positions, since they are on opposite sides of the market.
  • Customer C, who is long 20,000 XYZ calls, may not at the same time be short more than 5,000 XYZ puts, since the 25,000 contract limit applies to the aggregate position of long calls and short puts in options covering the same underlying security. Similarly, if Customer C is also short 20,000 XYZ calls, he may not at the same time have a long position of more than 5,000 XYZ puts, since the 25,000 contract limit applies separately to the aggregation of short call and long put positions in options covering the same underlying security.

 

Notifications and restrictions:

 

IB will send notifications to customers regarding the option position limits at the following times:

  • When a client exceeds 85% of the allowed limit IB will send a notification indicating this threshold has been exceeded
  • When a client exceeds 95% of the allowed limit IB will place the account in closing only. This state will be maintained until the account falls below 85% of the allowed limit. New orders placed that would increase the position will be rejected.

 

Notes:

Position limits are set on the long and short side of the market separately (and not netted out).
Traders can use an underlying stock position as a "hedge" if they are over the limit on the long or short side (index options are reviewed on a case by case basis for purposes of determining which securities constitute a hedge).
Position information is aggregated across related accounts and accounts under common control.

 

Definition of related accounts:

IB considers related accounts to be any account in which an individual may be viewed as having influence over trading decisions. This includes, but is not limited to, aggregating an advisor sub-account with the advisor's account (and accounts under common control), joint accounts with individual accounts for the joint parties and organization accounts (where an individual is listed as an officer or trader) with other accounts for that individual.

 

Position limit exceptions:

Regulations permit clients to exceed a position limit if the positions under common control are hedged positions as specified by the relevant exchange. In general the hedges permitted by the US regulators that are recognized in the IB system include outright stock position hedges, conversions, reverse conversions and box spreads. Currently collar and reverse collar strategies are not supported hedges in the IB system. For more detail about the permissible hedge exemptions refer to the rules of the self regulatory organization for the relevant product.

OCC posts position limits defined by the option exchanges.   They can be found here.
http://www.optionsclearing.com/webapps/position-limits

Priority or Professional Customer Orders

In the 4th quarter of 2009, certain U.S. option exchanges (CBOE, ISE) implemented rules which serve to distinguish orders originating from a group of public customers deemed to be "Professional" (i.e., persons or entities having access to information and/or technology which enables them to trade in a manner as a broker dealer) as opposed to retail.  In accordance with these rules, any customer account which is not a broker dealer and which places more than 390 listed option orders (whether executed or not) on a daily average across all option exchanges in a given month for its own beneficial account(s) will be classified as Professional. Since the original implementation by CBOE and ISE, most other U.S. options exchanges have similarly implemented rules to distinguish orders as "Professional" in origin.

Orders submitted on behalf of Professional customers to these option exchanges will be treated the same as broker dealers for purposes of execution priority and will be subject to a per contract transaction fee ranging from rebates of ($0.65) to a charge of $1.12 (depending upon the class of options). 

Brokers are required to conduct a review on a calendar quarter basis to identify those customers who have exceeded the 390 order threshold for any month in that quarter and who are to be designated as Professional for the next calendar quarter. Note that for purposes of this rule, spread orders are considered a single order, rather than each leg of the spread as an individual order. Customers impacted by these rules will be notified by IB.  In addition, IB's Smart order router is designed to take these new exchange fees into consideration when making routing decisions.

For additional details, please see the following links:

ISE Regulatory Circular 2009-179

CBOE Regulatory Circular RG09-148

How are the closing prices for U.S. listed securities options determined?

The prices which IB uses to mark U.S. listed securities options as of the close of business each day (both TWS and statements) originate from the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC).  As the sole clearinghouse for these option products, OCC generates a closing price for each option contract in order to calculate the margin required of its members on whose behalf it clears transactions (e.g., IB) and also to supply the risk arrays used by brokers carrying portfolio margin accounts.

Its important to note that the prices generated by OCC are edited and therefore may not reflect the closing price as disseminated by any of its participant exchanges.  They are edited primarily due to the fact that there is no consolidated quote provided for options, most of which are multiply listed and fungible across all seven exchanges (i.e., there may be seven different prices to choose from each day).  As a result, OCC creates a single price as of the close which is theoretically consistent across all exchanges and reviewed to ensure that there are no arbitrage conditions across strikes or time. 

In creating prices, OCC will start by taking the mid-point of the highest bid and lowest ask price across all listing exchanges, determining the implied volatility and then smoothing that implied volatility curve (for a given option class, type and expiration) through an iterative process which, in turn, adjusts the option mark prices.  There are also rules enforced to cap volatility for certain deep in and deep out-of-the-money options. The resultant edited price is extended out to six decimal places.  Due to the operational overhead of computing edited prices for the complete universe of option series, this process is performed only once per day as of the market close.

Options Regulatory Fee (ORF)

The ORF is an exchange fee which OCC collects from its clearing members, including IB.  Its stated purpose is to assist in offsetting exchange costs relating to the supervision and regulation of the options market (e.g., routine surveillance, investigations, and policy, rule-making, interpretive and enforcement activities). The fee was initiated by the CBOE in mid-2009, by each of the BOX, ISE and PHLX in January 2010, by AMEX and ARCA in May 2011, by Nasdaq in January 2012, by C2 in August 2012, by Miami in January 2013, by ISE GEMINI in August 2013, by BATS in February 2015, by Nasdaq BX in February 2016, by BATS EDGX in February 2017 and by PEARL in February 2017. It is currently assessed to customer orders at a rate of $0.0378 per U.S. exchange listed option contract with the rate per exchange as follows: 

EXCHANGE ORF
AMEX $0.0055
ARCA $0.0055
BATS $0.0005
BOX $0.0038
CBOE $0.0049
C2 $0.0014
EDGX $0.0004

ISE

$0.0016

GEMINI $0.0010
MIAX $0.0045

NOM

$0.0027
NASDAQBX $0.0005
PEARL $0.0010
PHLX

$0.0045

Total $0.0378


Note that the ORF  is assessed on all trades, both buys and sells, in addition the IB commission charge as well as any existing exchange fees (e.g., liquidity removal) and will be reflected on the Activity Statement as a Regulatory Fee.

Overview of Accumulate / Distribute Algorithm

Overview: 

Accumulate/Distribute is a sophisticated trading algorithm which allows one to buy or sell large orders by splitting the trade into multiple orders with the goal of reducing visibility and market impact.

When to Use
This order type is geared towards traders of large position blocks as well as high frequency traders and is intended to run unattended while logged into the TWS.
 
How to Locate
The Accumulate/Distribute algorithm can be accessed from the TraderWorkstation by selecting the Trading and then Accumulate/Distribute menu options at the top of the page or it can be added to the trading tool bar menu by clicking on the Add More Buttons icon.
 
Order Set Up
Once the trader has defined the instrument and action (buy or sell), the following parameters are to be specified:
 
  1. Total Quantity – defines the aggregate order size (e.g., shares, contracts);
  2. Trade Increment – defines the unit (e.g., shares, contracts) size for each component order;
  3. Time Increment – defines the period of time (seconds, minutes or hours) between the submission of a component order and the submission of the following order;
  4. Order Type – may select from market, limit or relative. A market order will be executed at the ask price and should only be used where, for example, a stock is highly liquid with significant bid-ask sizes. Limit and Relative order types require that the trader specify additional order relationships and the choices are numerous. The execution price, for example, may be specified as being relative to a fixed value, bid, ask or last price, VWAP, moving average or last trade. These choices may be increased or decreased by an offset factor and multiple conditions may be established. For example, one may wish to create a relative order type to match the bid price plus an offset factor of $0.01 and to ensure that they don’t lift the ask if the spread is $0.01, add a condition that the bid be no less that $0.02 beneath the ask price.
  5. How to Operate – if the trader does not check the box titled “Wait for current order to fill before submitting next order” then orders which do not meet the price conditions will continue to accumulate in accordance with the established time increment, the unexecuted orders will be aggregated into one or more potentially sizable orders at the exchange. If this box is checked, then the more restrictive the buying conditions, the greater the likelihood that the algorithm will fall behind its schedule of buying or selling at every ‘X’ interval.  If this box is checked the trader may then check the box titled “Catch up in time”. When that box has been checked and should the algorithm fall behind, the next orders will be placed immediately after their predecessor fills until such time the algorithm has caught up.
  6. Randomization – check boxes are provided to allow for a +/- 20% randomization in the time increment and a +/- 55% randomization in the trade increment. Accordingly, in the case of a 30 second time increment, this would allow for randomization of between 24 and 36 seconds between orders and in the case of a 500 share trade increment, this would allow for randomization of between 200 and 800 shares (rounded to the nearest round lot) per order. Randomization serves to minimize the likelihood of others detecting your order.
  7. RTH – a check box is provided which will allow the order to be filled outside of regular trading hours.
  8. Take up Offer Size – if a limit or relative order type is selected, the trader may input an order size which if bid (in the case of a sell order) or offered (in the case of a buy order) the trader would be willing to take in its entirety, up to the remaining portion of the total order quantity (satisfies the price conditions).
Managing the Trade
The Accumulate/Distribute algorithm also allows for conditions to be established which, if not met, will cause the algorithm to either stop permanently or resume when the conditions are again satisfied. These include the following:
 
  1. Price Range - traders may specify a price range outside of which they do not want to buy the stock;
  2. News – the trader may stop the algorithm for some period of time if there is news on the stock, for example;
  3. Position - traders may stop the algorithm based upon their position in the stock; For example, a trader running multiple algorithms one to buy the stock and another to sell in an attempt to trade the stock back and forth for a profit may decide to suspend one side if the position becomes substantially imbalanced;
  4. Stock Path – a trader, for example, may wish to suspend the algorithm if a given moving average, say the 10-minute VWAP is not at least as high as another average, say the 50-day moving average. This feature enables you to set up algorithms to trade chart points even when you are not looking at the chart at that moment;
  5. Stock Path for Multiple Symbols – this condition is similar to the last except that it calls for two symbols. Here you can put in any symbol and compare some data point regarding that symbol (e.g., 10-minute VWAP, etc.) to the same or a different data point regarding the second symbol. These comparative conditions can apply to different symbols or to the same symbol.   For example, you could specify that you want to buy a certain stock only if it has been in a continuous uptrend. So in addition to the 10-minute VWAP being higher than the 50-day moving average, you would also like the 10-day moving average to be higher than the 30-day moving average on this stock.
Other Considerations
Acceptable inputs for this algorithm include:
  1. Products – any product offered by IB (stocks, options, ETFs, bonds, futures, Forex) other than mutual funds;
  2. Order Type – market, limit or relative.

IMPORTANT NOTE

This algo will only operate when the trader is logged into the TWS.  If the trader has been logged out prior to the algo completing (either by user action or by the automated nightly restart), a message will appear upon the next log in which will allow for re-activation of the algo.

Overview of the Scale Trader Algorithm

Overview: 

The ScaleTrader is a sophisticated trading algorithm which allows one to enter a large quantity order that is executed in a series of increments or components, with each component being executed at a progressively better price.

When to Use
The use of this algorithm is well suited to situations where a stock is trading at or near the bottom of a trading range and the trader is looking to average down, buying into a declining market. Alternatively, it may be used on the opposite side when the trader is looking to sell into the top of the trading range, perhaps scaling out of a long position. In either situation, the Scale Trader algorithm also allows the trader to scalp the market, submitting opposite profit taking orders against the original order.
 
How to Locate
The Scale Trader can be accessed from the TraderWorkstation by selecting the Trading and then Scale Trader menu options at the top of the page or it can be added to the trading toolbar menu by clicking on the Add More Buttons icon.
 
Order Set Up
Once the trader has defined the instrument and action (buy or sell), five parameters will need to be specified. Traders will also need to define the order type and time in force. These five parameters for a stock purchase (sale) would be as follows:
 
  1. Total Order Size (TOS) – the total number of shares the trader is willing to purchase (sell) as the price falls (increases);
  2. Initial Component Size (ICS) – the number of shares to be purchased (sold) at the Starting Price;
  3. Subsequent Component Size (SCS) – the additional number of shares to be purchased (sold) at each Price Increment (at successively lower prices in the case of a purchase and higher in the case of a sale). If a SCS is not entered, the ICS will be used for all component orders.
  4. Starting Price (SP) – the price at which you are willing to purchase (sell) the Initial Component Size
  5. Price Increment (PI) – in the case of a purchase (sale), this is the decrease (increase) in price at which each successive component order is to be executed.
Based upon the inputs provided to those parameters, the Scale Trader application will calculate a Top Price (TP) and a Bottom Price (BP) which, depending upon the buy or sell action selected, will either determine the price at which the last order will be executed (BP for purchases and TP for sales) or be relevant only if the same scale is used to close or restore the size of the position (TP for purchases and BP for sales). Adjustments made to either of these two factors will be reflected in the PI and their calculations are as follows:
 
  1. TP = (((ICS/SCS) -1) * PI) + SP
  2. BP = SP – (((TOS - ICS)/SCS) * PI
Note that once a product symbol has been entered a price chart will be displayed to assist in specifying the parameters. The algorithm will not be activated until the Transmit button has been clicked and once transmitted will run indefinitely until stopped or changed or it encounters conditions where it stops. It's important to note that this particular algo will continue to run even if the trader is not logged in to the TWS.
 
Example
Assume a GTC limit order is entered into the Scale Trader to buy 1,000 shares of hypothetical stock ABC having a NBBO of $19.95 - $20.00 at a starting price of $20.00 with 500 more shares purchased at every $0.05 down, resulting in a maximum position of 4,000 shares. The five parameters for this order would be as follows:
 
  1. TOS = 4,000;
  2. ICS = 1,000;
  3. SCS = 500;
  4. SP = $20.00
  5. PI = $0.05
This order would be then be scaled into 7 components consisting of one at 1,000 and 6 at 500 each. The first component is submitted at $20.00 and after it fills the next component (500) would be submitted at $0.05 lower. That order would wait until marketable and once it has been filled the next component will be submitted. This pattern continues until all components have been filled or the order has been cancelled.
 
Managing the Trade
  1. Profit taking orders – the Scale Trader may be set to send an offsetting order to take advantage of periodic price surges or if the trader has reached a specified profit objective. This feature may be enabled by checking the box titled “Create profit taking order” and specifying the Profit Offset. Using the example above and a Profit Offset of $1.00, once the ICS was filled at $20.00 and an SCS submitted at $19.95, two profit orders would also be submitted, one for 500 shares at $21.00 and another for 500 shares at $21.05. It should be noted that profit orders are scaled to the SCS regardless of the size of the ICS and that if the ICS > SCS then the profit order price is determined using the PI along with the Profit Offset. 
  2. Restore size after taking profit – if using the profit taking orders feature, the trader can enable the repurchase of shares sold at a profit at the price they were originally bought at by checking the box titled “Restore size after taking profit”. This feature remains active whenever the price is within the range of TP + Profit Offset and BP. Using the example above, if order to sell 500 shares at $21.00 was executed this fill quantity would be put back into the original order at $20.00 and the order submitted at $19.95 would be cancelled.
  3. Restart Scale Trader & Restart Scale Trader with Filled Component Size – these features allow traders using the profit taking order and restore size features to restart the algorithm if stopped, helping to resume the order starting from the point at which the scaled sequence left off.
  4. Auto Price Adjustment – selecting this check box allows for an increase or decrease in the starting price automatically at stated time intervals (e.g., increase $0.01 every hour)
  5. Scale Trader Page – provides a view of the real-time status of scale orders, including filled and total quantity, filled, remaining, and total value, and the percent filled for each scale. Accessible via the Page and then Create Scale Trader Page menu options.
  6. View Scale Progress - right-click on the scale order line and select View Scale Progress. This will open a window displaying the complete scale price ladder, the Open/Filled component list for the parent scale order, and the Open/Filled component list for the child profit orders.
Other Considerations
Acceptable inputs for this algorithm include:
  1. Products – any product offered by IB other than mutual funds (e.g., stocks, options, ETFs, bonds, futures, Forex);
  2. Order Type - limit or relative (relative not offered for combination orders)
  3. Time in Force – Day, Good-til-Cancel or Day-til-Cancel. May also specify if order is allowed to be filled outside of regular trading hours, if executions may be routed and executed during pre-open session and whether to ignore opening auction.

 

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